Ecclestone: Government not willing to pay for London race

A London grand prix is unlikely because the government is not willing to support it.

That is the admission of Bernie Ecclestone, who told F1 business journalist Christian Sylt that he is prepared to make “a large contribution” towards organising a street race in the British capital.

But the F1 chief executive is quoted by “I don’t think the government would be prepared to put the required amount of money behind it.”

That is despite the 81-year-old being apparently willing to “help the government and council with their costs”.


Ecclestone interested in F1 Olympic stadium plans

Bernie Ecclestone insists he remains “interested” in plans to stage a grand prix in and around London’s Olympic stadium.

The proposal was once again making headlines in Britain on Tuesday, as the London Legacy Development Corporation confirmed the bid is among four others to utilise the stadium in the wake of the forthcoming Games. The F1 bid was submitted by a company called Intelligent Transport Services.

“If they were to get permission to do it, then we would be more than happy to do something with them,” F1 chief executive Ecclestone is quoted by the Guardian. “But we have nothing to do with putting in a bid.”

The 81-year-old was also quoted by Bloomberg news agency: “We’ve told them it’s a good idea and we would be interested.”


Ecclestone insists London race plans are not a joke

Many have said that they believe the rumours of a race on the streets of London was either a piece of clever publicity or a diversion from the Gerhard Gribkowky corruption case. However Bernie Ecclestone has hit back saying that the plans for a London GP are not a joke.

According to the Guardian journalist Christian Sylt Ecclestone said, “We are getting on with it. It is no joke, 100 per cent completely no joke.”

A separate report in Germany’s Kolner Express linked the appearance at Silverstone of Olympic Games chief Jacques Rogge with reports F1 could use London’s Olympic stadium as the scene of a grand prix.

“A London grand prix would be bigger than the Olympic Games,” Ecclestone is quoted as saying.

In other F1 circuit news, Luca di Montezemolo has admitted he would like Ferrari’s Mugello track to host a grand prix. The flowing circuit near Florence, renovated last year and used for a F1 test earlier this season, is gearing up this week to host MotoGP.

“It would be a dream come true to one day also see a Formula One world championship race take place at Mugello,” Ferrari president Montezemolo said.


London GP fanfare now just muted buzz

After all the recent fanfare, most of F1’s seasoned regulars at Silverstone merely raised their eyebrows when someone mentioned the London grand prix.

In fact, the raucous speculation has became only a muted buzz as experts agree it was all just a PR stunt. Any attempt to get at the real possibility of the bustling British capital closing down its streets for F1 came to a dead-end.

David Coulthard wrote in the Telegraph: “I learnt that it would require an act of parliament for it to happen as it would require a change to the law on speed limits. It’s not as easy as the mayor giving it the green light,” said the former McLaren and Red Bull driver.

And F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone, accused by some of skilfully planting a diversion amid the Gribkowsky corruption affair, told the Daily Mail that one of the plans – involving the Olympic stadium – “looks a bit complicated”.

“Then this other thing came up, which was a Santander publicity stunt,” he said. “They showed me their idea two or three months ago and said ‘It looks good. It looks exciting. It’s good publicity for the British grand prix and Santander’.

“I said ‘You’re bloody right it is’,” Ecclestone told the newspaper. “And before I knew it I was apparently the one who was behind it. I didn’t know about it to be honest, but I accepted the credit.”

Ecclestone confirmed that he is still prepared to put in 35 million pounds to “make it happen”, but he doesn’t really rate the chances.

“I will try to resurrect what we originally discussed with the sports minister and the old mayor – er, what’s his name, Mr Ken Livingstone – some years ago. I will try to get that back on track,” he added.


Deep scepticism greets London GP idea

Deep scepticism has greeted Bernie Ecclestone’s claim he is prepared to promote and pay for a London street race.

The F1 chief executive’s comments were made on the eve of a media event that took place on Thursday in the British capital organised by Santander, the sponsor of the British grand prix at Silverstone. That the Spanish bank’s imaginary F1 layout for London was being suddenly touted as potentially real was “fantastic news” for the organiser and PR agency Sidhu and Simon, according to a report on the BBC.

The Daily Mail agreed: “Dreamland was exactly where Santander’s publicity machine was residing last night.”

“Of course it’s not going to happen,” a senior figure is quoted as saying. “You know that, and so do I. But it makes a great story, doesn’t it?”

Some are questioning the timing of Ecclestone’s comments, insisting the big news is an ideal smokescreen amid the more serious story about former F1 banker Gerhard Gribkowsky’s jailing for bribery.

“Great idea,” a reader of the Telegraph commented when contemplating a London grand prix. “Bernie will make sure it goes via Wandsworth Prison so he can watch the race for himself.”

Writing in The National, Gary Meenaghan agreed the timing of the news “appears a convenient diversion from a less positive tale.”

British F1 legend Sir Stirling Moss also doubts the race will happen.

“I hate saying it but I think it would be (unrealistic),” he said. “I’d love to see it but they have been talking about it since I was racing in the 60s.”

The National’s Meenaghan continued: “Let’s get one thing straight — London will not be hosting a formula one grand prix.

“Not next year, not the year after, possibly not ever. Why? Because there are more obstacles in its way than there are speed bumps on the city’s streets.”

CNN reported that British motoring association AA is already condemning the event on the basis of London’s famous traffic congestion.

“We’ve seen the huge fuss that has been created by road closures during the Olympics and that is just once in a lifetime — a London GP would be every year,” said a spokesman.

And the Independent newspaper said the Westminster Council has “not been consulted”.

Even the soberly objective news wires are deeply sceptical.

“It’s nothing more than hypothetical for now,” said the Associated Press, adding that the project “is yet to move beyond just an idea and has no official backing from the city”.

And Reuters said there are “plenty of reasons to doubt it (the London GP idea) would ever pick up speed and become real”.

Jenson Button, who was otherwise on-message for the Santander stunt, had to admit: “I’m not sure you would be able to close down London for a grand prix”.

Major UK bookmaker William Hill is offering odds of 1/33 that London will not be hosting a grand prix any time soon.

“We cannot see it happening,” a spokesman confirmed.

The foreign media was also not fooled, Autosprint wondering if the idea of a London grand prix is “Verita (the truth) o folklore?”

And even The Times, who had published Ecclestone’s original quotes exclusively, admitted there are big hurdles that are yet to be cleared.

“Neither Santander … nor Mr Ecclestone intend to submit formal proposals”, the London newspaper conceded.


Mayor: Air and noise hurdles for London Grand Prix

London mayor Boris Johnson on Thursday could not guarantee the British capital will be able to host Bernie Ecclestone’s race.

F1 chief executive Ecclestone has said he is prepared to put up the money and promote a London street race. Some immediately wrote off the plans as either a classic Ecclestone diversion or a publicity stunt. But London mayor Johnson told the UK newspaper Express he is “broadly positive” about the plans.

“I am always interested in projects that attract jobs and bring growth,” he said, insisting it will be important to find out if there is “a really good economic case” for the event.

Johnson added: “The question of air quality and noise impact will have to be looked at. I am broadly positive providing we can satisfy the air quality and noise issues.”


Ecclestone offers to pay for London grand prix

Bernie Ecclestone is gearing up on Thursday to launch a bid for a grand prix on the streets of London.

The plans are reportedly separate to a McLaren sponsor event that imagines a fictitious layout in the British capital, as well as suggestions a London race could be run in and around the Olympic stadium. The Times reports that 81-year-old Ecclestone is prepared to put up almost $55 million to organise a street race around famous landmarks including Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, Big Ben and Nelson’s Column. Other British media reports say the plans will be unveiled later on Thursday.

“Think what it would do for tourism,” Ecclestone said. “It would be fantastic, good for London, good for England — a lot better than the Olympics.”

Mayor of London Boris Johnson’s office did not immediately comment. Ecclestone continued: “With the way things are, maybe we would front it and put the money up for it. If we got the okay and everything was fine, I think we could do that.”